Tuesday, 21 August 2018

Chairman’s Column  23rd August 2018

This year’s Mid-Somerset Show was a huge success. Thousands flocked to the show to enjoy another celebration of the many joys of living in our part of Somerset.  My personal favourite is the arts and craft tent along with the marquees that showcase cultural Somerset. Huge thanks to the organisers and the host of volunteers who make this show such a success for our town and the surrounding area.

Last week the town council discussed the outline planning application for the Mid Somerset Show field and it’s southern extension. As readers will know, the land to the west of Cannards Grave Road was marked for development of 500 new homes in the district council’s local plan. The developer, C.G. Fry and Sons, is proposing that they build 600 houses at this location. 

New roads entering the site will include a roundabout at the Little Brooks Road junction and a second access point further south off Cannards Grave Road. Space has been allocated for a primary school, a retirement home and a local convenience shop. The outline plan includes an open green corridor with permanent pools to deal with the acute drainage problems that this area suffers from.

Town councillors want this development to be linked into the High Street with good, safe pedestrian and cycle pathways from the new homes to the town centre.  It is absolutely critical that the proposed housing types meet the needs of local people. For example, we must insist that 30% of this new development should be affordable, rented homes. This is particularly important as the developer is proposing an additional 100 properties over and above the District Council’s Local Plan allocation on the extended showfield site. The final plans should include 1 and 2 bedroom homes and bungalows for older people and others who need this category of accommodation. 

While town councillors recognise the importance of getting this planning application right for Shepton, they only have the power to comment and recommend acceptance or rejection.  It is Mendip District councillors who will make the final and binding decision.  

As C.G. Fry and Sons have only presented an outline planning application at this stage, there is still all the design and layout details to be added.  There remains a real opportunity for us all to have our views taken into account. Shepton residents can look on Mendip District Council’s website to view the planning application and make comments on the plans.

This development is of major importance to the town. Your town councillors have made a full response at this first stage to the outline planning application. I urge residents to do the same. 

Chris Inchley, Chair, Shepton Mallet Town Council

Chairman’s column 13/8/2018

One of the undoubted successes of the past twelve months has been the Park Run held in Collett Park. Shepton was the first Park run in the area, since the our park run has inspired Street, Frome and Midsomer Norton to establish their own events.
The Park run has brought our community together, it has delivered economic gains to our town attracting many visitors from all over the country. Edric and Caroline Hobbs won a recent award for the event of the year, for our Park run. Edric now an ambassador for park run helping other towns to enjoy the community and health benefits of the the 5km run. The recent new wine festival at the Bath and West attracted many to our town to enter Collett park run
It is really good to hear that Casper Clements is trying to arrange a junior park run in Collett Park very soon, to be held at 9 am on Sunday mornings over 2kms, for young people from 4-14 years of age. Tesco bags for life are helping with funding and it is likely the junior park run will needs to find additional funding. Cheddar has a junior park run that attracts about 40 young people, Shepton hopes to attract between 60/70 young people.
The town council after its recent success in acquiring Green flag status now needs to find a flag pole to fly our flag, don’t forget we need green fingered volunteers to help develop our park.
Helen Reader, Sheptons own fairy godmother has magicked the town’s fairy trail to number one in the Google rankings for fairies, the fairy trail route travels from lower town through the high street, into the park past the prison into Garston Street covering historic Shepton, with many visitors commenting on the history and interest we have in our town. My favourite fairy is Bambi Shimmerpop probably because like many who worked for Showerings enjoyed the years working for them, loving babycham. Again the fairy trail helping deliver economic benefits to our town.
Shepton is a special place and working together we can make it even better.

Chairman 10

Another incredible week in Shepton Mallet! I attended the Shepton Mallet Branch of the Royal British Legion’s 90 th anniversary event on Saturday where I had the opportunity to meet Lester Holly of the Bowls and Tennis Club. I had a thoroughly inspirational chat with him about how the club is encouraging all sections of the community to grow their own produce on their allotments. The Tennis Club has a growing membership and now they are adding “touch tennis” to the mix.  I understand that Lester is an ace player!

Then I visited the very well attended League of Friends of the community hospital’s summer fête at St. Paul’s School. Substantial sums of money were raised to invest in our local hospital. Congratulations to all who organised and attended this great event.

Mental health services are the sadly neglected Cinderella of the health service, so all praise to the young people who organised the Fun Day in Collett Park last Thursday when they raised over £600 for the charity, Mind.  The incredible efforts of these motivated young people deserves our grateful thanks.

Shepton Mallet Town Council has been granted a Green Flag status for Collett Park. This national award confirms that our park is well managed, has good facilities and has a plan for future improvement and upgrading of the infrastructure. Remarkably, Collett Park is the first park in the Mendip District to achieve this honour, and our dedicated team at the Town Council, in association with our ground care contractors, deserves great credit.

It is wonderful that Collett Park has received this national recognition, but winning the award is just the start of a much longer process.  We are conducting a feasibility study examining all aspects of the park. Already we have identified many areas that need to improve.

We have begun to evaluate responses from local people from the series of ongoing consultation days held at various recent events and Sunday Markets.  For instance, we know that the toilet and ancillary block is in a dilapidated state and requires urgent attention. We know we will have to upgrade or replace these buildings in the coming years. We also need to establish an active Friends of Collett Park, and will be welcoming green-fingered folk to come on board to help develop the park. If you can help, please contact the town council for further information.

Winning Green Flag status is just a first step in delivering a park fit for the 21st Century. Winning this award gives us an opportunity to access external funding to manage and improve facilities, but we need to build a team of people and organisations to realise our vision that will allow Collett Park to continue to be a nationally recognised gem.

Chris Inchley, Chair, Shepton Mallet Town Council

Chairman’s Column 19th July 2018

Shepton has been enjoying the England football team’s sterling efforts this summer.  It shows just how important and uplifting sport can be for all of us. We may not have won the World Cup this time round, but Gareth Southgate and his young team have given us a much needed boost at a time of great uncertainty for our country. In Shepton, we have a great opportunity to build on the national mood of support for football where the Somerset Football Association offers coaching and training. Go to www.somersetfa.com for more information.

The Town Council has been proud to work with FReSH (the Friends of Shepton Mallet Recreation) to improve the BMX track at West Shepton Playing Fields.  During this long spell of sweltering weather, the refurbished facility has already been used extensively. All the members of FReSH should be thanked for their successful fund raising activities. This community group are now working with the town council to raise money for new play equipment in Collett Park.

Your town council is here to support local groups and help them deliver for our community. Our town council officers respond to many offers of help and we are delighted to welcome a community-minded group of young people who are organising a charity Fun-Day in Collett Park.  Led by a Somerset Rural Youth Project worker, the group are participating in the National Citizens’ Service. The event takes place on Thursday 19th July between 4:30pm and 8:30pm and proceeds will be donated to the mental health charity, Mind.  All are welcome!

It was great to read in last week’s Shepton Mallet Journal that Mendip District Council’s Chief Executive, Stuart Brown, is raising money for Mendip YMCA and the Alzheimer’s Society.  Stuart is entering a 100 mile bike ride. I’m sure local people will want to help him raise funds for these very important charities. Please give what you can at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/stuartbrown2018

Lastly, don’t forget that the Royal British Legion is marking its 90th anniversary at the Bowls Club at 1pm this Saturday.  Also on the same day, the Friends of Shepton Hospital are celebrating the return of our local hospital beds. Come along to St Pauls School at 2pm to thank the team who protected this essential facility for our community.

Chris Inchley, Chairman, Shepton Mallet Town Council

The Town Council has now elected all of its Chairs of Committees for the final year of this current administration(2018-19) before next Mays Town and District Council elections. John Parham chairs Policy & Resources, Garfield Kennedy chairs Collett Park Management, and Jon Hardy replaces me as chair of Open Spaces.

In my few months as the chair of Open Spaces we instigated a new way of working, with greater participation by local residents at meetingsBoth Open Spaces and Collett Park Managementcommittees are now conducted in a more relaxed and community-focussed way. 

The other change was that I took on the responsibility to erect and man the councils gazebo at the monthly Sunday Marketto increase community consultation and engagement.  I hope that this will continue. The next Sunday Market takes place this weekend, before a summer gap until September.  Make it a date in your diary and come along, either just to browse, or better still, topurchase beautiful crafts and great produce. There will be plenty of jolly stalls and happy traders there to delight residents and the increasing number of visitors who have discovered that Shepton has gained a new confidence. 

Coming up, we have a series of events to mark important anniversaries:

We continue to celebrate that its 700 years since Shepton Mallet was awarded its Market Charter by King Edward II.  Later in the year, the town council will be holding a special commemorative event in November to mark the end of hostilities in the First World War. The Shepton Mallet branch of Royal British Legion is celebrating its 90th anniversaryTo mark this milestone, the Legion are holding an event on 21st July starting at 1pm at the Shepton Mallet Bowls and Tennis Club, just off Charlton Road. In recent years, the local branch has been rejuvenated, attracting many new members, and I look forward to joining them to celebrate and thank them for their work here in Shepton.

The NHS is 70 years old this week. This amazing institutioncommands huge public support, and as its founder and championAneurin Bevan saidthe NHS will last as long as there are folk with the faith to fight for it.  Shepton residents have recently proved they were prepared to stand up for our community hospital

The Friends of Shepton Mallet Hospital are holding a Summer Fête at St Pauls School at 2pm on 21st July to celebrate the re-opening of the inpatient beds at the community hospital. Come and celebrate with those who worked so hard to protect the NHS here in our own community.

Chris Inchley, Chair, Shepton Mallet Town Council
Chairman’s Column 5-7-18

Whilst visiting the town council office this week, I read a note from a resident who told us she was disabled and who thanked the Council for inviting the circus to Collett Park. Since it was easy to gain access to the park, she said she could enjoy a circus in Shepton for the first time. It made her feel valued and part of the town. 

We know that the park was gifted to us by John Collett for the recreation of the townspeople. Collett always intended that special events like circuses should be staged in his park, but it’s comments like the one above that remind us that decisions by councillors can have direct positive impacts on people lives, and also honour John Collett’s written wishes from 110 years ago.

The town council are actively pursuing all avenues to keep our library in the heart of Shepton. We have held meetings with landlords of town centre properties and then worked up solutions that matchand improve on the financial case compared to Somerset County Council’s plan to remove the library from the Market Square and put it in the SHAPE office. 

The Town Council have worked closely with the Friends of Shepton Mallet Library and consulted with residents. We have supplied materials for people to be better informed to effectively participate in the County Council’s consultation, and have drawn up detailed costings for two different town centre properties where we can show better value for money and even make improvements to thelibrary service. We are trying to persuade Somerset County Council that we have exceeded their expectations for the library service, and now wait for a meeting with their corporate management team.

We recently had a book launch at the library for Cameron Dawkins’ latest publications, “They’re Demons”.  It never ceases to amaze me just how many talented authors we have living in Shepton!

Last week Police Constable, Neil Wolstenholme, retired from his beat in Shepton. I would like to thank him for all his hard work over the years and for the contribution he has made to our community. I hope he enjoys a long and happy retirement.

Finally, we welcome our latest Councillor, Phil Stevens, who was elected unopposed, thus avoiding yet another costly town council by-election.  This follows the resignation of Simon Davies, shortly after the election of 4 new councillors in May. 

Chris Inchley, Chairman, Shepton Mallet Town Council

Summer has truly arrived with gorgeous weather and spectacular sunsets. The town council has further lifted the summery feel with this years floral displays on roundabouts main roads and the High Street. With costs forever on the rise, we have had to increase the amount spent on these displays but have only received positive feedback on these splashes of colour throughout the town.

In mid-Summer it seems bizarre to be planning for the end of the year, but on 1st December we will be celebrating Small Business Saturday. It will be a chance to showcase our excellent pluckyentrepreneurs since Shepton seems to be bucking the national trend in retail. We have fewer empty premises than weve had for many years.

As large retailers, like House of Fraser and even M&S, retreatfrom town centres across the whole of the UK, fostering and developing small independent retailers has become the best and maybe only way to stop the death of the High Street. Certainly, Shepton is bouncing backand we should celebrate and continue to support this.  

With quality floral displays, greater effort to keep the town clean and tidy, and support for a wider range of events in town, we are starting to make a difference working in partnership with the community. We also need to make long term commitments to help resurface Town Street and Market Place, and replace and renew the confusing signage in the centre.

We live in a peaceful town but on occasion there is off-putting anti-social behaviour.  The town council invests £9000 a year on CCTV, but we need to use this recorded evidence in combination with information from local people to identify when and where the trouble happens. Please use the 101 helpline to tell the Police if you see or hear of an incident.

I believe it is essential that your local councillors keep their skills and knowledge up to date for you have confidence in our abilities. For that reason, last week I attended a training session in Somerton on how to be a successful Parish ChairmanMost of our town councillors live in Shepton and want the town to flourish and grow. They do not receive payment for their time, and I have not claimed for petrol or other expenses while representing you. can only hope that this column, week-after-week demonstrates that we are working positively on your behalf, and perhaps even doing more than you might have imagined!

Chris Inchley, Chairman, Shepton Mallet Town Council